Eastern Christian Schools have a new spiritual theme each year, one building more upon the previous. This year's theme, Micah 6:8, calls Christians to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” The school plans to focus on how to complete these things during a year of dealing with COVID-19, racial injustice, and many political, public, and private matters.
The spiritual theme team usually starts talking and planning the coming year’s theme in January. But due to COVID-19 and the in-person school closing, the team did not start until this past summer. This did not hinder their planning process because they already knew that they wanted to continue last year’s theme from Revelation 7:9 of ‘Every Nation, Every Tribe, and Every Tongue.’ Mr. Intlekofer, Eastern Christian High School principal, says that “we wanted something that could continue the work specifically focused on diversity and inclusion.” These two topics of conversation were brought up many times during online school and during the summer that the school wanted a theme that could further these discussions.
When actually choosing a theme, many factors are taken into consideration. One of the most important ones is that it is applicable to all students. There is at least one teacher and administrator representative from each campus on the team to ensure that any chosen theme will be appropriate for all grades ranging from 3-year-old preschool to seniors in high school. “The concepts of justice, mercy, and humbleness can be translated with regards to today's issues in terms that are familiar to each age group,” says Mrs. DeJulia, International Student Advisor and coordinator of the Chapel Planning Team at Eastern Christian High School.
All three campuses have their own way of translating the theme to each student. At Eastern Christian High School, there is a set time after first block every Tuesday and Thursday called homeroom. On Thursdays, this time is in place of chapel where students watch a video of a speaker and the student praise band. On the following Tuesday, there will either be an activity, or a discussion of the previous chapel. Homeroom will be a time to discuss faith, cultural issues, and much more. Mr. Intlekofer hopes that homeroom time will be a “good avenue to have these deeper conversations.”
At Eastern Christian Middle and Elementary Schools, they will have a similar time, but less discussion based. “It might be a video message, it might be a link to a song,” comments Mr. Intlekofer. In the elementary school, they have a built-in chapel time where they can all watch it together, and the middle school has advisory in the morning where they have Bible class, do an activity, or have chapel.
Chapel time is not the only way that students can learn about Micah 6:8. In fact, Mr. Intlekofer says that “[the theme] goes into our marketing, it goes into our communications, and it goes into the daily classroom and gives a framework for the devotions in class.” The school’s goal is to incorporate the Bible into everything, and it goes way beyond chapel time.
Micah 6:8 calls us to act, love, and walk, which are all action verbs. Mr. Intlekofer says that “It’s really easy for us all to be focused on ourselves, and the way that this verse is framed out, it really takes the focus off of yourself and I think that’s essential right now in the world with COVID, thinking of how we can help others and have social responsibility.” We are called to serve our community, and therefore must act out the theme both inside and outside of the classrooms. As a school, we are not allowed to have any group activities due to COVID-19, but Mr. Intlekofer encourages everybody to participate in these actions at home with their families.
This year’s school-wide Spiritual Theme was chosen very specifically for our students and staff. We should never forget the cultural matters that happened this past summer, and Micah 6:8 continues that conversation. Mrs. Dejulia adds that “so much has been stirred up in our nation concerning social justice. This year's theme will both help address God’s call for restorative social justice in the Old and New Testament, while also emphasizing the mercy of the Lord to those who act unjustly.”